Welcome to the SPHERE Center!

The Social Policies for Health Equity Research (SPHERE) Center is led by Dr. Rita Hamad and located at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Our goal is to foster evidence-informed policymaking to achieve health equity. The SPHERE Center includes an interdisciplinary group of affiliates and trainees working to evaluate the health effects of social and economic policies.

The research conducted at the SPHERE Center helps us to understand the role of social and economic factors—like poverty, education, and structural racism—in influencing racial and socioeconomic disparities in health. We do this by conducting rigorous studies on the effects of social and economic policies on racial and socioeconomic health disparities; disseminating our findings to policymakers, key stakeholders, and the public; and supporting the training of the next generation of health equity researchers.

Our Priority Areas

Poverty Alleviation Policies and Health

We examine how anti-poverty measures, such as the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, impact health, to better inform policy design and implementation.

Education Policies and Health

We evaluate how national, state, and local education policies affect students’ physical and mental health.

COVID-19 Pandemic Policies and Health

We work to document local U.S. pandemic-era policies to better understand how policy variation and implementation have impacted health and health disparities.

Safety Net Policies and Health

We assess whether receipt of safety net supports, like food assistance and paid family leave, can improve health for children and adults.

Neighborhood Disadvantage and Health

Neighborhoods are a key determinant of health. We look at the relationship between neighborhood socioeconomic disadvantage and health across the lifespan.